Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What's In A Name?

                                   " The Offices of Tilted and Askew" © 2007

   Names have been much on my mind lately.  I just finished Suri Hustevedt's The Blazing World.  I found the novel difficult to get into with references to Kierkegaard, Danno and Diderot in just one paragraph.  I felt as if I had been plucked from the couch and dropped  back into one of Carol Dupre's seminars.  They were fascinating but also mentally challenging and discomforting.  The Blazing World deals with an accomplished artist Harriet/Harry Burden who feels her work has been ignored because she is a woman.  She tests her theory by using three male artists (masks) to show her work as their own.  I forced my way through the first half of the novel, only because I am an artist and felt it behooved me to do so.  Midway through I became engaged with the characters and enjoyed the premise.  
   I have always signed my paintings CP Richmond.  Not to pretend I was a man (male artists sell better) but because I never liked my name, Cynthia.  There's not a lot you can do with such a prissy name but shorten it to Cindy.  "Cindy", to me, was a cheerleader.  No one has ever offered me pompoms.  I thought of changing my name to Thia, but that smacked of overreaching.
   I take great care with the names of my paintings.  Lisa Semerad, the artist, once told her class "anything you can do to make the viewer take a second look is worth the effort."
The attached image is of one of my favorite paintings, though I couldn't begin to explain why.  It went through a series of names (ie.,"Pandora Has Left the Building")before settling on "The Offices of Tilted and Askew".
   I am about to become a grandmother which has also fueled my interest in names.  Apparently, singularity is all the rage.  No one should be burdened with a common name.  Nor one that doesn't pose the question, is the addressee male or female?  Parker, Aubrey, Avery, Riley and Peyton are popular girl's names. When I hear some current boys's names I wonder why they don't just stick a "kick me" sign on the kid's back the first day of kindergarten.  A sampling: Usher, Magnus, Ignatious, Banjo, Cosimo, and Draco. I think it's easier for girls to carry an odd name.  One of the top names for girls, according to the Huffington Post, in 2014 was Imogene.  Some of my friends children have named their children  by where they were conceived, i.e.. "Siena."  (I am so relieved she wasn't conceived in Bologna.) 
  It's a new world.  Oddity is the new normal.